Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frog King vs. Cupid and Psyche

The Grimm Brothers’ “Frog King” talks about a beautiful princess who asks a favor of a frog she sees. She drops her golden ball down a well, and the frog retrieves it for her. However, the frog makes the princess promise to make him her companion. She agrees in her moment of desperation, but later leaves without fulfilling her promise. The frog, though, is not deterred her initial rejection and interrupts the royal family’s dinner. Her father, hearing of his daughter’s actions, forces her to make the frog her companion. That evening, as the frog wants to sleep in her bed with her, she throws him across the room. He magically turns into an attractive king, and the two get married.

                In Lucius Apuleius’ “Cupid and Psyche”, there is also a beautiful princess. Her beauty, however, puts her on Venus’ bad side. Cupid is supposed to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous monster, but accidently shoots himself with the arrow. Therefore, Psyche and Cupid fall in love. Eventually, Psyche marries Cupid, but never sees him, as he only comes in at night. Her sisters advise her to secretly light a lantern with which to see him and discern if he is a monster. If he was a monster, Psyche had a knife to cut off his head. Psyche does this, and accidently awakes Cupid, he is angry that she has done this, as he did not wish for her to see him. He banishes her, causing her to seek help from other gods. Eventually, she seeks Venus’ help and is forced to do many difficult tasks. Other gods help her complete these tasks and Venus is always dissatisfied. Finally, Cupid asks Zeus for permission to continue his marriage to Psyche; a marriage frowned upon by Venus. His request is granted and he is able to save Psyche from her own curiosity a second time.

                In both tales, there is a princess is whose beauty is far greater than that of anyone else. In both stories, she promises herself or is promised to a husband that she cannot truly see. In the “Frog King”, the princess rejects the frog/her future husband, but is forced to comply by her father. In “Psyche and Cupid”, Psyche is lured into looking at her husband by her sisters.  However, both princesses like their male counterparts and fall in love. Psyche is initially banished from Cupid for her curiosity, but eventually their marriage works out. The Frog King and the princess marry right away in the Grimm tale.  The Psyche story has many more conflicts than the Grimm version, but it is also a different type of tale. The Grimm tale is obviously a fairy tale, and it is meant to be short and simple. The Roman myth is longer and much more complicated. It contains no repetition or magical numbers, as are characteristic of the fairy tale. The intended audience is supposed to know the identity of the gods involved and other myths. The fairy tale audience is not required to have heard any other tales in order to understand the full implications of the tale. Both tales have lessons involved and happy endings, which give them somewhat similar structures. Overall, both stories have similarities in the content and structure, even though they are from separate genres.

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